ENERGY has just visited Prospects, the UK’s “official graduate careers” website to check out what it says about jobs in Britain’s energy sector and has come away deeply concerned about the quality of information presented.
The way it describes the upstream oil&gas industry is particularly worrying as it is inaccurate and badly presented.
Indeed, when we first checked out the website, we wondered if we had picked up out-of-date pages; however, a quick check showed that the information appeared to be current.
It says: “The UK’s oil and gas industry has been self-sufficient since 1980. It is expected to remain self-sufficient in oil until approximately 2016, and in gas until well into this century. However, the UK’s oil reserves are declining.”
Prospects is plain wrong about self-sufficiency. Britain is already a net importer in oil and natural gas, with output plummeting rapidly with effectively zero hope of a reversal. By 2016, there will be large-scale decommissioning of North Sea installations, though production could soldier on at a low level for several decades yet.
Prospects fails to say anything about the huge supply-chain capability that is now such a global asset.
It then talks about the “petroleum industry consists of more than 200 companies refining, distributing and marketing petroleum, including large multinational oil companies, supermarkets, retailers and rural filling stations”.
It should be pointed out that the petroleum industry includes the North Sea. That’s upstream, while pipelines are midstream and everything else is downstream. There are more than 1,000 upstream service companies present in and around Aberdeen alone.
Prospects is adrift with nuclear, too. The estimated number of people employed by the sector is about 100,000 – which is about twice the figure ascribed by Prospects.
Moreover, with about 40% of current staff due to retire over the next few years, it will need about 1,000 graduates a year for the next 15 or so years.
Prospects is at least right to say that there will be a further need for scientists and engineers due to the approval for a new generation of nuclear power stations. Of course, the deal between the UK Government and EDF pretty much guarantees that will indeed happen.
It is possibly correct about the coal industry – about 5,600 (official 2006 figure) – but needs to say a bit more about renewables, including that well over 100,000 (the Forum for Renewable Energy Development in Scotland claims 160,000) “green collar” jobs UK-wide by 2020 are in the pipeline if renewables ambitions are realised.
All told, Prospects’ energy offering to graduates is lamentable and needs overhauling.